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Image by Ana Martin

A Poet on the Train

I looked for him on the train 
but didn’t see him again, totem
sign that there is order 
in the flow of mortal time. 

We are all going somewhere,
he with callused hands
curls springing from under 
the hardhat, a book of poems 
tucked in a cargo pocket, Rilke
or Levertov—trying to get
where he is going. To what lust
what yearning? 

I nod to a nurse, a student
with a portfolio, familiar
passengers within the fitful 
movement, all searching 
for that which sustains.

Through fog and sometimes frightening 
sun, friction, dream, the chanced upon 
dancer, a beat, a bright conversation
numbed by speed and passage 
of time, we move, trying 
to stay awake.

The view of the city contracts,
into the silent faced commuters
shadows on smooth bark,
and still we wander unresolved,
mute or receptive to encounter,
each a turn, muse, or risk.

May I desire for you? Do you
know desire is time? Young man,
I wish you time and small 
encounters that sustain.

Julie Green is a retired museum curator, wife, mom, lifelong choral singer, and fanatical arts advocate. She writes on her living room couch with her dog, Tashi as muse. She is currently finishing a novel and putting together a chapbook. Her work has appeared in several journals including Slant, The Reach of Song, Circle of Women (Emory University), and Naugatuck River Review. She is the 2023 recipient of the Herbert Shippey Award for Excellence in Southern Poetry, and the Low Country Award for Short Story given by the Southeastern Writers Association.


  1. Anonymous

    Brilliant poem Julie!!!

  2. Anonymous

    Elevates the mendacity of commuting to a source of imaginative projection.

  3. Anonymous

    Simply beautiful!

  4. Anonymous

    Love this! I was never this insightful on MARTA.

    • Anonymous

      LOL – you gotta let your mind wonder on Marta for sure.

  5. Vicky Alvear

    Love this! Great work Julie!

    • Anonymous

      Thanks Vicky!

  6. Anonymous

    Beautiful and imaginative and so intricately described! Wow.


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